A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF GWYNETH (GWEN] FRYER (nee Johnson)
A Reflection on the Service held for Gwen Fryer by Ann Boulton.
Gwen services in the WRNS from 1958 to 1973 and the WRNR from 1973 to 1984. She served in the Ministry of Defence as Senior Stenographer to Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Mountbatten, HMS Ariel, RNAS Lossiemouth, HMS Excellent, Malta, HMS Cambridge, HMS Drake, Washington and Canberra.
Eternal Father strong to save opened the service of celebration of Gwen’s life in St Mary Le Strand church on Sunday 28thAugust a year after her sad death in Canberra. It was a lovely service with her brother, Trevor, giving A Brother’s Reflection and her son, Malcolm, giving A Son’s Reflection. Malcolm is the architect overseeing the restoration of our WRNS church St Mary le Strand. Malcolm hae created a display of Gwen’s life and a lot of sweet peas, her favourite flower.
I read A Friend’s Reflection which I give here. “I first met Gwen in November 1960 when she arrived at the Ministry of Defence to take over from me as senior stenographer to the Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Mountbatten. This was to take charge of a typing pool of the three services and we were a lively bunch. Although the work was hard and relentless it was made more difficult by manual typewriters. Security was tight and if you left the room for lunch or home then our typewriter ribbon and carbons had to be locked away securely. None of this losing secret laptops in cars. The difficulties of typing an important document with about ten carbon copies were legion and not helped with the person who created it possibly changing one word on the front page which meant the whole thing had to be typed again. I tell you this so that you can see how hard Gwen had to work but Lord Louis ran a happy ship.
I spent a lot of time before leaving the WRNS I December 1960 with the typing of letters organising Lord Mountbatten’s world tour in 1961. This amazing trip was then enjoyed by Gwen but I never held it against her!
We were together in the Service for a relatively short time but we struck up a long friendship which lasted until her sad death. In later years she told me that she typed the letters to the Foreign Office asking them to give me a job in Singapore. When Lord Louis said jump, you said how high. The Foreign Office did jump and created a job which I enjoyed for several happy years whilst my husband was based there.
We went our separate ways and she took her commission. I went to Gwen and David’s wedding in Plymouth and we each had two children. We kept in touch over the years. I went to visit her and David in Canberra and she always came to see me when she was in the UK. Her last visit was eight years ago in Oswestry. She even came to check on me in Campbeltown when I ran away to Scotland.
Gwen, you were a credit to the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the Women’s Royal Naval Reserve and a good friend of over sixty years – I miss you. Fair winds and following seas.
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